An inside look at HCFR’s arson dog - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

An inside look at HCFR’s arson dog

HCFR's arson dog, Summer. HCFR's arson dog, Summer.

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – Horry County Fire Rescue gave WMBF News an inside look at how they use their arson dog, Summer.

Summer is a 4-year-old black lab. She’s been with HCFR for three years.

Her job is to sniff out anything that might cause a fire.

“She’s sniffing for any hydrocarbon based accelerants, so that would include gasoline, diesel fuel, lighter fluid, camping oil,” her handler and deputy fire investigator James Cyganiewicz said. “Any of the main gasoline based accelerants that people may use to accelerate a fire.”

Cyganiewicz explained how he uses Summer at the scene of a fire.

“The first thing we do on arriving on the scene is I’ll walk through the scene to make sure there’s no obvious hazards to the K9,” he said. “Once that’s done, we can deploy her, and she can typically go through the average size residential home in about 10 to 15 minutes, which would take us at least a couple hours to process through and to try to find where we may possibly take evidence.”

Cyganiewicz also lives with Summer. She’s his pet as well as his work partner. He says he loves working with her.

“It’s wonderful,” he said. “The dog’s always in a good mood. She’s got a great personality. Never has a bad day. Just always ready to work and ready to do her thing.”

He says Summer is food motivated, so when he wears a belt with treats in a pouch, she immediately knows it’s time to work. Once that belt comes off, she becomes a normal dog.

“She’s a working dog,” he said. “Although she is a pet and does enjoy the fire station, she actually has a purpose. She’s a tool in our toolbox to help combat arson.”

Another interesting tool HCFR has recently started using is a drone.

Spokesperson Mark Nugent says it’s been a huge help since they started using it a little more than a year ago.

He says it has many uses. It can live stream video back to command centers to give first responders an idea of how bad a fire is without having to enter the fire themselves. It also can be used to search for missing people by giving an aerial perspective.

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